If we had to choose our favorite thing about August (believe us it's a long list) we would have to choose a fresh picked, vine ripe tomato. There really is nothing like the taste of a perfectly ripe, just picked tomato - it must be the closest one can come to actually tasting sunlight (haha!). If you've been hitting the local farmers markets this month you've probably noticed an abundance of beautiful tomatoes waiting to be used in the kitchen. And when a tomato tastes this good we think it's best prepared simply and consumed raw to really appreciate the flavor. Our recipe this week does just that, but first more on tomatoes!
Since we love tomatoes so much we had to take this opportunity to discuss them further. So first, is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Now that is a great question! Botanically speaking tomatoes are the fruit of the vine of the tomato plant - a flower blooms and then turns into a beautiful tomato. Though for culinary uses we tend to treat tomatoes as vegetables. There are many varieties of tomatoes that can be used in many different ways in the kitchen. Heirloom tomatoes are popping up everywhere this time of the summer and can be found in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and flavors making tomato shopping very exciting indeed! Heirloom tomatoes are generally grown from seeds that have been around for more than 50 years or passed down through generations of a family. With such a wide variety of heirloom tomatoes to choose from we think you are missing out if you always go for only the varieties you typically find in stores. A few of our favorite heirloom tomatoes are green zebra, mortgage lifter, black krim, big rainbow, and chocolate cherry tomatoes (such cute names!) so keep your eye out for any of these or ones that look good to you. Keep in mind that if you are not growing your tomatoes or harvesting from a friend or family member, buying organic is always preferred. Also, try to store your tomatoes at room temperature and eat within a few days because storing in the fridge can cause flavor loss (oh no!). If you must refrigerate to prevent spoiling let tomatoes warm to room temperature prior to eating. Okay so who's ready to eat some tomatoes already!?
August Harvest Gazpacho
PREP TIME: 10 mins
TOTAL TIME: 15 mins
4 cups diced tomatoes (any variety)
1 large bell pepper (we used green)
1/4 sweet onion
1 large or 2 small cucumbers
2 cloves garlic
1 inch jalapeño pepper
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 tsp cracked black pepper
Optional garnish: fresh basil
Rough chop onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, and jalapeño pepper. Start by adding the onion, garlic, and jalapeño to a food processor. Pulse until minced. Add the bell pepper and pulse until finely chopped. Next add cucumber and tomatoes and do the same. By adding each component of the soup one at a time to the food processor you are able to create a variety of textures in your finished product - if you were to add all the ingredients to the food processor at the same time you would end up with a pureed vegetable soup. For this recipe, we prefer a textured gazpacho.
Once all vegetables are chopped to preferred texture mix in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Garnish as you like and serve finished gazpacho at room temperature. It can also be stored in the fridge for up to five days but make sure to bring gazpacho to room temperature prior to serving. Also note that leftover gazpacho may thicken in the fridge, you can add a little water and extra sprinkle of salt prior to serving.
This gazpacho is cool, light, refreshing and oh so flavorful. The perfect dinner after a day outdoors. So stock up on tomatoes while the pickings good and make this cold soup before you're wanting a warm version (though you still have plenty of time, it's officially summer until 9/21 but let's not get ahead of ourselves!). We personally would be okay if August and tomato season would just last forever.
Happy tomato season,
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.